Begin walking your new career path
Are you a numbers person?
Do you enjoy managing budgets and financial planning?
If so, you may have a bright future as an accountant. Accountants do more than just “crunch numbers”—they help manage funds and provide strategic guidance to individuals and companies on how to make wise business and financial decisions.
Discover how you can prepare for a career as an accountant.
1. Understand the role of an accountant
There are a variety of accounting jobs, from bookkeeper to CPA. While there are different types, all accountants use both analytical and communication skills to organize financial information and make recommendations using that data. They also:
- Maintain and inspect financial accounts
- Report on financial performance
- Understand the impact of financial laws and regulations
- Prepare financial documents and check them for accuracy
- Propose solutions to business challenges or concerns
Some of the qualifications needed to become employed as an accountant can include a four-year college degree and analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills.
In some cases, it is possible to get a job as an accountant without a degree; however, this is dependent upon factors such as your past experience, length of experience, and the employer. Earning a degree can help you qualify best for the job you really want.
Common questions about a career in accounting
Accountants typically work in office settings, including corporate offices, government offices, or private offices. Some accountants may work independently in their own consulting business, while others may work with a team of professionals.
Because of the services they provide for individuals and corporations, accountants may be able to work in cities across the United States or even overseas.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for accountants was $79,520 per year, or $38.23 per hour, in 2019.1 The salary range for accountants may vary based on factors such as geographical location, size and type of employer, and experience level. Salaries may also vary based on experience and education. By advancing their education with a master’s degree or post-graduate certificate, accountants’ earning potential can increase.
The BLS reports the job market for accountants is expected to grow an estimated 4 percent through 2029.1 This is generally tied to the health of the economy; as the economy grows, more individuals and businesses depend on help from accountants to prepare and examine financial records.
Accounting job requirements typically include a bachelor's degree, which generally takes four years to complete. A master’s degree may be completed in under two years. However, this is dependent on the program and the number of credits transferred.
2. Earn a degree in accounting
There are many educational pathways to an accounting career. Many people start the pathway to their accounting career with a diploma or associate degree, which allows them to gain work experience. They then continue on for their bachelor or master’s degree, which can help them obtain higher-paying or more challenging jobs.
3. Get certified
There are a number of accounting certifications to consider, and requirements for licensure will vary by state and employer. You may not need to earn certification before earning your first entry-level job in accounting, but earning certification will help your resume stand out from the rest for the next big job opening.
A few key certifications include:
- Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) from the American Payroll Association. This certification is designed for entry-level payroll professionals. Earn a diploma or associate degree in accounting, and you’ll be well prepared for this exam.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) from the Institute of Management Accountants. To become eligible, you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree and have two continuous years of experience in financial management or management accounting.
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Like the CMA certification, CPA certification requires more than just earning a bachelor’s degree. You’ll need additional education and professional experience—exact values will vary by state and jurisdiction.2
Our goal is to help you discover a rewarding and fulfilling career path in accounting. Becoming certified is a great way to better qualify for the best jobs you can find.